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Team GFS Races for a Cure in True-Blue and Pink Spirit!

Posted: October 24, 2011

Community-minded. Triumphant. Spirited. Poignant. Garrison Forest’s participation in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was all this and more for the 2011 event.

Team GFS won third place for the largest team in the Maryland race with 405 students, parents, alumnae, faculty, and friends enthusiastically racing, walking, or “sleeping in” for a cure for breast cancer. Team GFS fielded the largest team and raised the most money by any all-girls’ school in Maryland for the 2011 event. This year’s race marked the 14th year for GFS as a team, which is organized by the Parent Association. Alumnae across the country joined the efforts by “sleeping in” for the cure and supporting Team GFS.

Team GFS raised $18,375—and counting—breast cancer research and outreach in a month marked by awareness announcements during Morning Meetings and a “Pink and Denim” Day on October 17. Donations toward Team GFS’s total may be made through October 31 at

The biggest cheers on race day, though, were for David Berdan, GFS Lower School and Middle School Science teacher, Varsity Cross Country coach, and campus resident. He crossed the finish line for the 5K at 15:30, cheered on by his students, colleagues, GFS parents, and the Grizzly mascot. The race marked his third consecutive Race for the Cure win. Check out his pre-race interview on ABC2NEWS here. (His video clip is the fourth from the left.)

A week earlier, Mr. Berdan had finished 10th in the Baltimore Marathon after leading the marathon for the first 11 miles. It was the best finish by a Maryland resident in the 11-year history of the event. Check out the story on Mr. Berdan in the PressBox.

Mr. Berdan, a veteran marathon runner who hopes to qualify for the 2012 Olympic time trails, reflected on the impact of his Komen win in a Baltimore Sun article. "Winning a race is nice, but winning over breast cancer is what it's all about," he told the reporter. The timing of the race was particularly poignant for his family. One of his wife Amanda’s grandmothers died of breast cancer and the other started treatment for breast cancer the day after the race. At Monday’s Middle School Morning Meeting, he was greeted by a bouquet of balloons and cheers from his students and colleagues.

For Team GFS Co-Chair Alex von Kessler McMahon ’82, the schoolwide efforts are deeply personal. As a breast cancer survivor, she is committed to finding a cure. "I would love a future without breast cancer," says the mother of two GFS girls. "When I was a GFS student, one of the best parts of the School was the sense of community. I still feel that. With the Komen Race for the Cure, everyone at GFS rallies behind a common goal. Komen does a great job of getting the word out about breast cancer and the need for early detection. My cancer was found through a routine mammogram, and early detection saved my life."

For a race heavy always with meaning, this year especially, Team GFS had numerous reasons for racing. In July, Upper School Academic Resource Coordinator and GFS parent Erin Raleigh lost her battle to breast cancer, and members of the GFS faculty are fighting the disease as well as melanoma.

Thank you to everyone who supported Team GFS this year. A special thanks to Alex McMahon, fellow Team GFS co-chair and parent Helen Bonsal, and Team GFS Assistant (and incoming Chair) Stacey Scrivner, parent, for their organization and leadership.